Why do bad things happen to good people? (Part 1)

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So bad things happen because of the acts of first humanity and on and on it goes from then and we’ve been attending funerals ever since. But what about the idea that evil seems unequally distributed? 

Firstly, what do the theologians say? And do they agree? R.C. Sproul tells us that Calvin and Arminius were emphatic in their agreement of total depravity of humankind. They both agree that no one does anything good except by the work of the Holy Spirit. The Notion that people are born good is not a Christian view.

Human evil: examples

So they agree, Christians generally agree that humans are all evil. What examples to we have for this claim? Well  let’s just take the from just the 20th century I’ll display here from Clay Jones book (See sources at the end)

The horrors of Germany
  • 6 million Jews were killed
  • Equally 6 million + Poles, Ukrainians, Russians, Gypsies, handicapped etc. were also killed

The above doesn’t include those killed in wars,

Millions of Jews and Slavs arrested in Europe by battalions of police and Gestapo. In some countries, such as Poland, the Jews and Slavs were first forced into ghettos. But, sooner or later, millions of them were herded so tightly into sweltering rail cars that often there was no room to even sit. They traveled for days without food, without water, with not enough oxygen; often they urinated, defecated, and vomited standing up. Thousands died on these journeys. During one four-day transport in July 1944 of 2521 prisoners from France to Dachau, 984 people perished.

Dachau Museum Guidebook, http://www.scrapbookpages.com/DachauMemorial/GuidebookText.html.
  • Children were pretty much always exterminated because they couldn’t work
  • Many were forced to strip naked and lie on family members who’d been recently shot, many not yet dead

Many of us know about the Zyklon-B gas dropped on individuals

  • 2,000 could be killed at once
  • They knew they were dead when the screaming stopped
  • The bodies were then taken to ovens and cremated
  • Auschwitz could cook 4,756 people a day
  • Medical experiments where people were either frozen, decompressed, drained of blood, sterilised
  • Mengele’s experiments on identical twins are too horrific to entail here. He enjoyed vivisection

There were material horrors

  • Shoes, clothes and glasses reused from the dead victims
  • Human skin used for lampshades and book covers
  • Heads shorn to fill mattresses and make wigs

There was a more terrifying horror

  • As early as the 1920’s, 20 years before world war 2, many Germans wanted Hitler to exterminate the Jews. 
  • Hitler gave a speech about where germans are anti-semites referring to Jews as parasites, criminals etc. who should be punished with death
  • Many may not be directly involved in killing in the camps but desired it years before they happened


  • Recently the United states Holocaust Memorial Museum reported that more than 42,000 camps, ghettos, brothels etc. have been identified
  • Many of these camps provided labour for Daimler-Benz, Volswagen, Krupp, BMW, and Bayer (who sold the Zyklon-B gas)
  • Rail workers, policemen, trick drivers, factory works, administrators knew exactly what was going on but did nothing
“The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Encyclopedia of Camps and Ghettos, 1933–1945,” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,http://www.ushmm.org/research/center/encyclopedia/
Soviet Union
  • From 1917-1989 20-26 million people died in camps (this is the conservative estimate)
  • Soviets’ successful 1932-1933 quelling of Ukrainian nationalism by starving 5 to 7 million peasants to death.
  • Anyone perceived as a threat to communism was killed, methods not barred. 
James E. Mace, “Ukrainian Genocide,” Encyclopedia of Genocide, vol. 2

This is not inhumane, this is what humans do. I say this as someone with Polish lineage with grandparents and family that had to flee through this madness from both sides.

  • 26-30 million were killed or died in the prison system
  • Mao Tse-tung boasted in a 1958 speech to the communist party, “What’s so unusual about Emperor Shih Huang of the Chin Dynasty? He had buried alive 460 scholars only, but we have buried alive 46,000 scholars.”
 Quoted in Li Cheng-Chung, The Question of Human Rights on China Mainland (Republic of China: World Anti-Communist League, China Chapter, September 1979)

Japan, perhaps unbeknownst to you, perpetrated some of the worst horrors.

Within a period of a few weeks beginning in December of 1937, the Japanese army raped, tortured, and murdered more than 300,000 Chinese in the city of Nanking. Iris Chang in her book The Rape of Nanking writes: 

The Rape of Nanking should be remembered not only for the number of people slaughtered but for the cruel manner in which many met their deaths. Chinese men were used for bayonet practice and in decapitation contests. An estimated 20,000–80,000 Chinese women were raped. Many soldiers went beyond rape to disembowel women, slice off their breasts, nail them alive to walls. Fathers were forced to rape their daughters, and sons their mothers, as other family members watched. Not only did live burials, castration, the carving of organs, and the roasting of people become routine, but more diabolical tortures were practiced…

Iris Chang, The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II (New York: Basic Books, 1998), 6.

Japan officially denies these acts today. What is horrific also is this information is suppressed also by the West who wanted Japan as an ally to help them stem the tide of communist expansion. 

United States

The american slave trade tortured and killed many. But if we’re sticking to 21st century

  • For example, since 1973, the people of the United States have, among other abortion methods, suctioned, scraped, or scalded to death more than 58 million babies and continue to permit abortion today.
  • The most common type of abortion procedure is suction curettage, or vacuum aspiration, where a tube is inserted into the cervix and a vacuum then suctions the baby into “fetal parts, which are more or less identifiable.” In other words, the baby is suctioned into pieces. This reminds me of the more humane practice of being hung, drawn, and quartered. In that English execution method, the traitor against the Crown would first be hanged, and then his four limbs would be tied to different horses which pulled him apart.
  • It’s interesting that those writing about being hanged, drawn, and quartered almost always describe the punishment as barbaric, but at least the traitor was pulled apart after he was already dead. But our civilized society suctions into pieces hundreds of thousands of babies a year, and these babies are alive when the suction procedure is performed.
  • Who keeps abortion legal? It’s certainly a majority of Americans, or abortion would soon be outlawed. Who keeps abortion legal? It’s your neighbors, right? It’s probably some of your co-workers and maybe even some of your friends. Who keeps abortion legal? Could it even be you?
“Abortion Statistics: United States Data & Trends,” National Right to Life Committee, accessed August 22, 2016, http://www.nrlc.org/uploads/factsheets/FS01AbortionintheUS.pdf. 

Warren M. Hern, Abortion Practice (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1990), 114.

The UK is not doing well either at this barbaric practice.

  • Rwanda, 800,000 Tutsis in ethnic cleansing in 100ndays
  • Ottomans Turkey: 1.2 million Armenians from 1915-23
  • Cambodia: 1.7-2.2 million out of a 7 million population of people
  • Guatemalan army killed tens of thousands of Mayan Indians in 1980s-90s
  • South Africa, Apartheid, racial segregation, 36,935 cases of ill teatment, abductions, tortures and killings
  • Pakistan, 1971, killed, raped, disabled or displaced 3 million Bangladeshis and created 10 million refugees who fled to India
  • Uganda targeted Baganda causing 300,000 deaths then later Acholi region, killing another 100,000
  • Saddam Huseins Iran used nerve gas on the Kurds (many survivors have neurological disorders), frequently tortured Iraqis, tortured to death many Kuwaitis
  • Argentina, 1976-83, thousands disappeared and were systematically tortured, drugged, stripped naked, thrown out of airplanes into the ocean.
  • During WWII, 330,000 Jews perished under Romanian administration
  • Spain, 136,000 disappeared under Franco regime in spain with another 12-30,000 children being kidnapped,.

The worst thing about this list is it’s just the 20th century, I could quote countless more atrocities even from that very century.

In many of these cases other countries knew what was going on (i.e. Rwandan genocide) but people did nothing anyway. This is not inhumane, this is what humans do. 

Studies about the human race

I’m going to quote Clay Jones book directly here:

“In an attempt to understand how it was possible for so many people to participate in the torture and execution of so many in the Holocaust, from 1960 to 1963 psychologist Stanley Milgram conducted a famous study at Yale University—a study now known as the Eichmann Experiment (after Auschwitz administrator Adolf Eichmann). In response to a newspaper advertisement, two people at a time would come to a psychology laboratory to participate in what appeared to be a traditional learning study. After a flip of the coin, one of them was then designated “teacher” and the other “learner.” To impress the “teacher” with the significance of his or her actions, before the experiment began, he or she received a very real 45-volt shock from a shock generator. 

During the experiment itself, the learner was strapped into a chair with electrodes attached to his wrists. The learner was then told to learn a list of word pairs. Each time the learner made a mistake, the experimenter instructed the teacher to give him a shock. The teacher sat before an impressive shock generator with thirty switches labeled 15 volts to 450 volts and “Slight Shock” to “Danger—Severe Shock.” Under the 450-volt label it just said, “XXX.” 

As the experiment continued, the experimenter told the teacher to increase the shock dosages. As he or she did, the learner’s protests increased to “hysterical, agonized screaming and begging to be let out.” In reality, however, the learner was a paid actor who received no shock at all. The experiment actually concerned the teacher, who administered the shocks. 

The object of the experiment was to see how many people would administer dangerous levels of shocks if instructed to do so by an authority figure. The result: 65 percent administered all shocks as instructed, including the possibly lethal shock. Milgram found no difference between men and women.

Milgram’s study shocked the psychology community worldwide.”

Jones, Clay. Why Does God Allow Evil?: Compelling Answers for Life’s Toughest Questions (p. 231). Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Arthur G. Miller, The Obedience Experiments: A Case Study of the Controversy in Social Science (New York: Praeger, 1986), 63.

Experiments that have followed on from have showed similar results or higher! In 1970 David Mantell repeated the study in Munich, West Germany. He used teachers and even after 25 years of calm since World War 2 85% were willing to administer the maximum shock. He concluded:

All the experimental variations share several disturbing features, which make the results they achieved all the more difficult to understand. Every experiment was basically preposterous. While one might expect a person to agree that the study of the effects of punishment on learning is worthwhile, the entire experimental procedure from beginning to end could make no sense at all, even to the layman. A person is strapped to a chair and immobilized and is explicitly told that he is going to be exposed to extremely painful electric shocks…This experiment becomes more incredulous and senseless the further it is carried. It disqualifies and delegitimizes itself. It can only show how much pain one person will impose on another…And yet, the subjects carry on…That is at once the beauty and the tragedy of this experiment. It proves that the most banal and superficial rationale is perhaps not even necessary, but surely is enough to produce destructive behavior in human beings. We thought we had learned this from our history books; perhaps now we have learned it in the laboratory”.

D.M. Mantell, “The Potential for Violence in Germany,” Journal of Social Issues 27:110-11,

Some of the shocking results of many of these tests is they were just your average person. Teachers, mums, daughters, brothers, milkmen, office workers etc. Most of the Nazi’s were generally nice people having a family, taking care of them, welcomed in their own communities etc. 

Hannah Arendt, in her 1963 book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, reported on the trial of Auschwitz administrator Adolf Eichmann. Arendt concluded that the trouble with Eichmann was that “so many were like him, neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal.”

Hannah Arndt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (New York: Penguin, 1994, reprint 1963), 277.

Clay Jones in his research from speaking to those who study genocides concludes that those who commit genocide are just average people, they don’t need to be a psychopath or someone who had an abusive upbringing (though they could obviously contribute). 

Fred E. Katz sums up exactly what kind of person participated in the Holocaust. He wrote that “only a tiny proportion” of the “massive killings are attributable to the actions of those people we call criminals, or crazy people, or socially alienated people, or even, people we identify as evil people.” Rather, they were actually “carried out by plain folk in the population—ordinary people, like you and me.”

Fred E. Katz, Ordinary People and Extraordinary Evil: A Report on the Beguilings of Evil (New York: State University of New York, 1993), 10.

Katz asks, Who carried out the plans of the “Hitlers and Stalins”? His conclusion: “Ordinary people, like you and me.” Then he asks, “Who provides the intelligence, the brain power, the orderly thinking to translate crazy philosophies into a practical course of action? Ordinary people, like you and me.” Finally, “Who provides the quiet sustained effort, the plain hard work it takes to carry out huge programs of murderous action? Ordinary people, like you and me.” Even though Katz’s family was killed in the Holocaust, he considers the perpetrators to be ordinary people.

Fred E. Katz, Ordinary People and Extraordinary Evil: A Report on the Beguilings of Evil (New York: State University of New York, 1993), 10.

To drive it home, there is a book called “Ordinary Men: reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final solution in Poland” by Christopher Browning. Browning in his conclusions came to the shocking revelation “I could have been the killer or the evader – they were both humans”.

Christopher R. Browning, Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland (New York: HarperCollins, 1992), xx. 

Auschwitz survivor Elie Wiesel observed of Auschwitz administrator Adolf Eichmann that he “was an ordinary man. He slept well, he ate well. He was an exemplary father, a considerate husband.” Wiesel wrote, “Naïvely I was looking for the mark on his forehead” which would reveal that he had dug “a grave within himself. I was shaken by his normal appearance and behavior.” Wiesel said he was expecting to see a madman, “yet he was a man like any other.” Elsewhere Wiesel concluded, “Deep down…man is not only executioner, not only victim, not only spectator; he is all three at once.” Primo Levi, an auschwitz survivor wrote similar to this as well.

Elie Wiesel, One Generation After (New York: Random House, 2011), 5.

Elie Wiesel, The Town Beyond the Wall, trans. Stephen Barker (New York: Avon, 1970), 174. 

Primo Levi, The Reawakening (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri, 1995), 228. Consider the title of a book by Holocaust survivor Fred Emil Katz: Ordinary People and Extraordinary Evil.

It is important to note that why so many Genocide researchers came to this conclusion is that many Jews often afministrated at the Ghettos and manned the gas chambers and crematoria. 

Harald Welzer, “On Killing and Morality: How Normal People Become Mass Murderers,” Ordinary People as Mass Murderers: Perpetrators in Comparative Perspective, eds. Olaf Jensen and Claus-Christian W. Szejnmann (New York: Macmillan, 2008), 187.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who suffered eight years in a Soviet gulag, asks:

Where did this wolf-tribe appear from among our people? Does it really stem from our own roots? Our own blood? It is our own. And just so we don’t go around flaunting too proudly the white mantle of the just, let everyone ask himself: “If my life had turned out differently, might I myself not have become just such an executioner?” 

Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 73

It is a dreadful question if one answers it honestly.

If our lives turned out differently, could we be the executioner and might we not be Christians?

  1. If you answer yes, then you understand there is something deeply wrong with mankind
  2. If you answer no, I would ask how are you better innately than the millions of people mentioned here? Ordinary people like us? Also secondly, for one to think they are superior in their moral upstanding historically is the father of genocide. 

Clay Jones sums up humanity as they are as “born Auschwitz-enabled”. But you might argue, there are at least some good people, right?


Clay Jones, Why does God Allow Evil?: Compelling Answers for Life’s Toughest Questions

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